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Independent and Revolutionary. These two words embody what it is to be an American as well as a Mason. On July 4th we pause to celebrate the brave men who forged a country out of wilderness with blood and guts. We have all heard the countless stories of how the Freemasons directly influenced the building of the precepts of our great country. Numerous Freemasons stepped out of the secrecy of their Blue Lodges to help create the freedoms we now enjoy. Besides the image of George Washington on our one dollar bill, the next most identifiable may be our first President wearing his Masonic Apron. In school we learned about how the original thirteen colonies strived to be independent of a suppressive monarch. We believe all men are equal. The walls of our Blue Lodges are adorned with plaques and banners engraved with the names of Masons who are counted among our Founding Fathers. We are quick to boast of their heroic exploits and are proud to be called a Freemason just as they were. From within the confines of the Colonial Masonic Lodges sprang forth a revolutionary thought… Freedom for All. The world was forever changed by just a handful of free thinkers. When America was formed the very thought of freedom for all was revolutionary. We were an experiment in how good men, left to be free in our religious endeavors as well as day to day life, could become great men. Freemasons continue to be revolutionary today. In our ever changing world it is hard to think of many places you can gather without fear of retribution and openly work to gain more knowledge. In our Blue Lodges a man is not judged by his vocation, religion, or social status. All men are equal. All men deserve the right to be free thinkers. All men can create a better world. I think that makes our great fraternity just as Independent and Revolutionary as America was so long ago.

As we enter our parade season I would once again like to remind everyone that we are invited guests in these parades. We are not the boss. We have to accept the decision of each parade committee. After an unfortunate incident last July we were thrown out of the Three Rivers Festival Parade, AGAIN. We were banned from the event for more than a decade until Ellis Ryan asked for another chance. Last July I found myself sitting in their office begging for forgiveness a second time. A Mizpah Shriner, who was not getting the answer he wanted, called a female Three Rivers Festival official an off color name in front of a dozen volunteers. Let’s all remember, “As you put the fez on your head, it is as if you are putting the Masonic Apron around your waist.” The Three Rivers Festival Parade is the most viewed parade in Northeast Indiana. Last year 80,000 spectators lined the streets of Fort Wayne with an estimated 100,000 watching from home. I am willing to swallow my pride and do whatever it takes to secure the future of Mizpah, but this is our last chance. Please be patient at all of this season’s parades. We need them more than they need us.

Remember, Imperial Parade is Monday July 1st @ 7:00 pm. Three Rivers Festival is Saturday July 13th @ 9:00 am. Orland Parade is July 27th @ 9:00 am.

Your Humble Servant,
Mike Hardiek, Potentate
Mizpah Shrine Center